Your First Visit
Welcome, welcome, welcome!!
Visitors and newcomers are always welcome at the Unitarian Society of Germantown. We were all newcomers and visitors ourselves at one time, and we want to offer to you the friendship as well as the “space” to explore our religious community. Whether you come to visit once or stay for a lifetime of religious growth and fellowship, we are glad you are here.
We are a congregation of people with diverse spiritual orientations, from many different backgrounds. We seek to share a journey of spiritual growth and work together to find ways to live our faith in the world, while respecting the right to freedom of individual beliefs. Please take time to explore this website to find out more about who we are and what we do. We welcome any and all questions you may have.
We hope that we will meet you in person soon and that you will join us as we create and grow a diverse, justice-seeking, spirit-growing community.
Your First Visit
Haven’t attended a church in years? Not sure what to expect from a UU worship service? Here are some common questions newcomers ask before attending a Sunday service at our church:
- How do I get there?
- Where do I park?
- When does the service start?
- What happens during the worship service?
- What are the sermons like?
- Can I bring my children?
- Is childcare provided?
- Will I be welcome?
- What if I’m part of an interfaith family?
- Will I be welcome if I’m agnostic or atheist?
- What should I wear?
- What happens after the service?
- Will I be pressured to join or convert?
- What holidays are celebrated?
Where do I park?
We have a large parking lot, accessible off Johnson Street between Greene and Wayne Avenues (view the map), or use GPS address 359 W Johnson St to find it. There is also parking on Lincoln Drive, which runs in front of the church. On Sundays, the courtyard at the Lincoln Drive entrance is reserved for accessible parking.
The main entrance to the sanctuary is on Lincoln Drive. If coming from the parking lot, you will see a sidewalk path that leads you along the side of the church to the main entrance on Lincoln Drive. Members and regular friends frequently enter through the “back door,” but this might be confusing for a new visitor.
Our Sanctuary, built in 1928, reflects our Protestant heritage. The chancel (altar) is at the front, and the congregation sits in pews, facing the pulpit. More information on the service can be found on the What to Expect in Worship page.
What are the sermons like?
Our sermons may be unlike what you grew up with, since we don’t try to tell anyone exactly what to think or do. They strive to offer personal and thought-provoking ideas on a topic so that you can determine your own beliefs about it. Sermons are offered by our ministers, church members, or special guests.
Can I bring my children?
Both you and your children are very welcome. Our Child Spiritual Development program is often why people first come to USG. Its goal is to “facilitate ethical and spiritual development in our children so that they will be empowered to become free-thinking individuals who know and respect themselves and others, contribute to their human and natural communities, and make informed decisions regarding their spiritual paths.”
Most Sundays, families begin together in the Sanctuary. Some Sundays, there is a Story for All Ages related to the sermon topic, other weeks there is special music, a conversation with our minister, or a collection for a charitable organization in our community. About 15 minutes into the service, children are dismissed to their religious education programming.
You may choose to accompany your child to their classroom (classrooms and lesson topics are listed on the back of the Order of Service each week), so they know they are where they belong and you know where they are. Teachers, other parents or the Director of Spiritual Development can help you get them to their classes.
Programs are available for middle and high school age youth. These programs include Building Bridges, Our Whole Lives, Coming of Age and Young Religious Unitarian Universalists.
if you have decided that your children will participate in the program, register them. There is a nominal supply fee charged to non-members, but please speak to the Director of Spiritual Development if this would prevent you from participating.
On a few special Sundays, we have Intergenerational Worship during which children and their families attend for the entire hour. Activity packets are available from the ushers on these occasions.
We provide childcare for children under three. Childcare is located in the Committee Room located next to the Dining Room on the first floor. Should a problem arise, one of the childcare assistants will come to find you in the Sanctuary. If your children stay with you in the Sanctuary and they become restless, there is a small room off the foyer at the rear of the Sanctuary. There are rocking chairs and toys available, as well as a speaker so the parents can still hear the service.
Will I be welcome?
Yes, absolutely. We believe in the inherent worth and dignity of every person and in acceptance of one another and encouragement to the spiritual growth of all. We are diverse in age, gender, sexual orientation, race and ethnicity. Our members come from many different occupations, cultural heritages, and religious backgrounds.
Will I be welcome if I’m agnostic or atheist?
You are welcome. Within our membership are agnostics, atheists, humanists, theists, Buddhists, Christians, people who follow the earth-based religions and scientists. We give people a safe place to explore and grow spiritually, wherever they start from and wherever they journey. We provide spiritual development for children, teaching them how to make informed and ethical choices. We provide a larger forum for making a difference in the world through social action. And we provide a vibrant social community.
What should I wear?
Please wear whatever makes you comfortable. Some people dress very casually, others more formally, it’s completely up to you. Children should wear comfortable clothes. After their classes, which sometimes involve “messy” crafts projects, children may want to enjoy our playground.
What happens after the service?
Every Sunday after our worship service, we host coffee, conversation, fellowship and information sharing in the Dining Room (or in nice weather in the Grove.) Opportunities abound for visitors to learn more about Unitarian Universalism and the role of our church in the local community. Visitors as well as new members have opportunities to interact with Committee chairs (for example: child spiritual development, social action, ending racism) in order to become more aware of the stimulating array of activities available at our church.
Information tables are available to provide handout material concerning programs and activities, such as Social Justice, Ending Racism, Community Outreach and Youth Activities. In addition, information is available regarding the pathways to membership at the Unitarian Society of Germantown.
Will I be pressured to join or convert?
We do try to be friendly. We do not ask visitors to join our church right away. We believe that you should take the time to see whether we are a good fit and to consider our covenant. Membership conveys certain privileges, such as voting rights and leadership opportunities, and responsibilities such as involvement and financial support, but there are a number of congregants who are very active in the life of our community who have never signed the membership book.
What holidays are celebrated?
We celebrate many of the great religious holidays that in some way inform the UU faith, including Easter, Passover, Summer and Winter Solstices, Day of the Dead, Chanukah, Christmas, and Kwanzaa.
How do I get there?
The Unitarian Society of Germantown is located at
6511 Lincoln Drive, Philadelphia, PA 19119
(Parking in rear of church on Johnson Street
between Wayne Avenue and Greene Street, use 359 W Johnson St)
To get to the large parking lot from Lincoln Drive, turn left on Wayne and left again on Johnson or turn right on W. Hortter, right on Greene and right on Johnson or use GPS address 359 W. Johnson St.
Public Transportation: Accessible by Regional Rail Line (R8 – Chestnut Hill West – Upsal Train Station) just two blocks North of the Church. Also, accessible by the bus Route “53” (Wayne Avenue and Lincoln Drive) and bus Route “H” (Lincoln Drive and Hortter Street) buses.